In a city full of self-starters and go-getters, New York is an ongoing contributor to the growing sentiment that “everyone’s a roaster now.” This caffeine-fueled entrepreneurial jungle is continuously teeming with aspiring business owners, new cafes, and roasting companies despite the city’s continual crunch for real estate. It’s no wonder WeWork and other shared-facility co-working communities thrive in a landscape with a lack of affordable space. Paolo and Chisato Maliksi’s Regalia Roasting Collective is the next logical step in the coffee chain—it’s a shared roasting space and wholesale venture for both brand new coffee professionals and those venturing over from the restaurant world.
The Maliksis launched Regalia in a Long Island City in 2018, located below the owners’ own apartment. Their intention is to provide a welcoming space for aspiring roasters, but particularly those in the rest of the food and beverage world. Additionally, Maliksi wanted to give more creative and financial freedom to businesses outside of what coffee wholesale programs have to offer them.
“I pretty much think that every specialty coffee roaster provides an à la carte menu and makes you buy from that à la carte menu, and if we just think about it like that, there’s nothing really specialized about that,” Paolo Maliksi says. “It’s just like, ‘Here are my offerings. Please buy [them]. And we’ll do the best we can to ensure that you continue to make it taste good.’”
Regalia gives clients the power to take full reign of their own supply. They not only teach interested parties how to roast, but also how to source their own green coffee. The first taste is free: Regalia offers a complimentary introductory two-hour roasting session to get themselves familiarized with Regalia’s 15kg Mill City roaster, along with their QC accessories—a Decent DE1Pro, Mahlkönig EK43, FETCO CBS 1131 V+, refractometry equipment, moisture analyzer, cupping equipment, and various minerals for building water. They also offer climate-controlled green storage and green coffee pickup from New Jersey’s Continental Terminals—acting as “the Uber of Coffee,” as Maliksi says.
“The mission is to lower the barrier into entry into roasting,” Maliksi says. “It used to be this secret, invite-only, you’re not ready for roasting kind of thing. But people can come in, they can go through the session. If they say it’s not for them, now they know about it. We are not just about renting the roaster to other people who want to start companies. We are out there to rent the roaster to cafes and bakeries.”
To hone his focus, Maliksi first studied current roasting collective operations worldwide, including Pulley Collective (with locations in Brooklyn and Oakland). Combining the cost of a dedicated roasting space, green coffee and storage, and workers’ hourly wages, Maliksi sees the shared Regalia space as a way for business owners to offer true specialty roasting experience at a fraction of the cost of starting a brand new facility. However, if the idea of roasting remains daunting despite the savings, Regalia offers “ghost roasting” toll services and private labeling, along with a subscription service of their own roasts. There’s also a traditional wholesale coffee program with outsourced tech support and weekend open houses for clients to showcase their offerings to the public.
On a regular weekday, a visit to Regalia shows one person roasting, and perhaps another one in the corner packaging their own offerings, while another is busy cupping their latest batches and trying to get feedback from you. With upcoming plans to bring in other complementary businesses to the space (e.g. graphic and interior designers), the Maliksis see Regalia becoming a bigger community moving forward—in step, it would seem, with coffee itself.
Katrina Yentch is a Sprudge contributor based in New York City and the online editor for Barista Magazine. Read more Katrina Yentch on Sprudge.